J-ZONE’S TOP 10 ADVENTURES IN DIGGIN’

Uncategorized August 18th, 2009

Note: This week, I’m taking a brief break from clowning men with purses, Kanye’s shag,  Nas & Kelis’ dummy vs. chickenhead war, the corniness of Twitter and rappers forcing their awful music on you in the streets instead of getting a job. That side of J-Zone will be back soon, but for now I’m gonna dip into the less curmudgeon-like side of myself. Can’t have this column being pigeonholed now, can we?

J-Zone @ Out Of The Past In Chicago, December 2007.

TOP 10 ADVENTURES IN DIGGIN’

Your girlfriend will never understand you dragging her into an asthma inducing dump of a store to sift through records. You then remind her to shut the fuck up, because every time she dragged you into some store in the mall to look at some Tarot cards or some draws that are just gonna come off anyway, you suffered through it like a man. When a man is into digging for records, he puts his health (and life) on the line. I haven’t known anybody to die in the line of duty, but some of us have knocked a few years off of our lives by inhaling mold and funny looking dusts that can’t possibly be OSHA approved. Some people fly to strange countries just to dig, but I never went that far. I’m not a digging nerd, I have actual bills to pay. Believe it or not, I’ve gone record hunting on three different continents and my best stories are from local spots and junk yards right here in America. Sometimes it’s all about the experience, not the records.

I started collecting in the fourth grade (1987). After discovering my folks’ old funk albums as a kid, I became a completist and tried to track down every record by every group.  At the time, most of these records were 10-20 years old, but there was no internet and there were no high profile dealers, so joints that reside in the dollar bins -or even made their way to itunes- today were much harder to find then. I was spending all of my $10 a week allowance on records, and I also started playing bass guitar around this time, so of course funk records gave you the best shit to emulate and practice to. Anyway, here are 10 spots/adventures that stand out in my mind from my 22 years of record collecting.

10. GREENLINE RECORDS (Jamaica, Queens)…Defunct

This spot was dumpy as hell. It was the first record store I ever called “home”, which was from 1987-89. It was on Guy Brewer Blvd., about 3 miles from my house, and my pops used to go there to buy jazz when he was in high school. So when I was trying to find Bohannon’s Stop & Go album (which is hard to find to this day) and complete my collection for the group Slave and couldn’t pin down two of their releases, my pops suggested we try “a store I used to go to as a kid”. When you walked in there, it was just nasty. It had a big ass Ms. Pac Man arcade game in the front, and 2 shelf cases, one with cassettes and one with 8 track tapes for the local pimps that never updated their Cadillacs.  There was an older man with glasses who owned it and another dude who looked like Lee Oskar from War. He took me to a Slave section that was about a foot thick. 3 and 4 copies of every album they ever did. It was like I asked him for a copy of Bigger and Deffer or something (that was the biggest rap record out that the time). He pulled the last copy of the Stop & Go record out of an even bigger Bohannon stack.  For the next two years, every penny of my allowance was spent in Greenline. As I got older, I found other stores and got into the conventions, but Greenline remains king and every time I pass where it was, I stop and nod to it. Being that Studio 1212 was around the corner, a teenaged Large Professor, Ultramagnetic and the late Paul C all did work in that spot. The last time I was in there was 1999, when I was working on my Bottle Of Whup Ass EP. I got a few silly ass jazz records that I wound up using on there, and Dick Hyman’s Moon Gas LP for $10. Moon Gas now fetches for near $100. They closed a year later, RIP.

9. RECORDS UNLIMITED (New Rochelle, NY)…Defunct

RU was on a tougher section of the main drag (North Avenue) in New Rochelle. Back in ‘89, I would always get my hi-top fade cut at Al’s Barber Shop around the corner from this record store. It didn’t look too dingy, so I never went in there much. But when I started to collect hip-hop and hip-house around that time, I started to go in there to get “12 singles and tapes. That’s when I discovered the nice selection of funk they had. Along with my cameo haircut, I was also collecting the funk band Cameo’s early shit around this time, and RU had a nice selection of early Cameo. I also bagged Kool & The Gang’s Light Of Worlds LP in there for $6 after my first time seeing it a month prior at Colony Records in Manhattan -fuck Colony, rip off ass tourist trap- for $30. Every time I got a haircut at Al‘s -which was $8, damn, barbers are recession proof- I’d spend $10 on some records in there and use the other $2 to get back to my moms’ apartment on the bus. The last record I bought in there was Ohio Players’ Pleasure album. A month later, I passed by it on the Bee-Line 61 bus and it was boarded up.  My next time over there getting a haircut, I walked over and asked some Jamaican dude standing in front of the neighboring Goffman’s bodega (a hood ass New Ro hangout) what happened to Records Unlimited. He shook his head and said “The IRS. They didn’t pay their bills, mon." Bloodclot!! I don’t know if that’s true, but from that day on I used the extra $10 I would spend on records to get my name shaved into the back of my head at the barber shop. By then I was 13, and had broads to impress, fuck a record.

8. BREAKDOWN RECORDS (Bayside, Queens)

I needed to get my moms a birthday gift, and I didn’t know what to get her. There was mad traffic on the Cross Island Pkwy, so me and my pops took the local streets through Queens and passed this shop. I had to stop and check it out. Glad I did, because not only did I find a Marvin Gaye LP for $3 for my moms, but I found Kool and The Gang’s Music Is The Message LP for $4. I was a Kool fan (their mid-70‘s stuff), but I didn’t know about their rarest (and best) material pre-Wild & Peaceful. This record is still a tough find today (goes for around $30 on average), and it’s also my favorite album of all time. On the back of the cover, they had pics of their previous 4 albums, and when I saw that they existed, the chase was on (it would take a year before I found them all in 1990). 20 years later, Breakdown is still standing. The owner, Anthony, is a cool ass dude, and every record in the store is $2, no exceptions. I also found a cover-less OG copy of Mulatu Of Ethiopia (it’s a serious and costly piece, google it) there in the late 90’s. It was in a junk crate by the door getting ready to be picked up by sanitation. Not only was it in good condition, but it was inexplicably en route to the garbage. Not to mention, the place is loaded with obscure VHS and cassette tapes. Yup, tapes, still. Ipods are soft and made for women on elliptical machines, it takes a real man to rock tapes, and not on no retro shit. Auto-reverse on a bitch.  I even scored KMD’s Mr. Hood , Son Of Bazerk‘s album and the Big Mello and Choice albums (Rap-A-Lot Records) all sealed in the original CD long boxes (remember those?). I put both Pete Rock and Edan on to this place, and they each managed to walk out with a stack. It’s grimy and cluttered, but semi-organized, and chances are all these transient NYC overnight Brooklynites who don’t know who David Dinkins was will probably never see it. You’d have to hop the LIRR, drive or take a gang of buses to get out there, and as soon as you‘re talking 2 fare zones -if you don‘t know what they are, you‘ve never been in one and your one trip to JFK airport don‘t count- nobody wants to make the trip. Mo’ for me. The best that NY has to offer isn’t on the L train line, remember that.

7. NYC RECORD CONVENTION (Manhattan)…defunct

This wasn’t a spot, just an event that was held either at the Roosevelt Hotel or in Union Square a few times a year. By this point (1993-94), selling beats was big business. Dealers were already digging up samples to sell at a high price. The event was a crowded who’s who of producers, but the place was clean, organized and it wasn’t lining you up with a future bout of lung disease. I would engineer sessions for Vance Wright (Slick Rick’s DJ) my junior and senior years in high school, and my pops would roll down there with me and watch me blow the $300 I earned in the sessions the night before. When you’re 17 years old with no bills, so goes life. My best memory wasn’t a record I got, but the people I met. Godfather Don (who remains a cult classic producer/artist) and Herb McGruff (who rolled with Big L, Cam’Ron & Ma$e and later got a major deal with Heavy D) had done a 3 song demo tape together that never came out. They were two cool and humble dudes, and Don gave me his last copy of the tape because I actually knew about his barely known Hazardous LP. The demo was hard as hell, and I still have it today (apparently, neither Don or McGruff have a copy, or so I’ve heard).

Here is one of the songs, “East & Police” (link). Vintage 1994 NYC hardness.

6. FURNITURE SHOP ON WARBURTON AVE. (Yonkers, NY)…defunct

Yonkers should be the 6th borough of NYC. Right above The Bronx, It’s a racially segregated -they didn’t de-segregate their public schools until they fell under pressure to do so in 1986, word to Gorton HS- and corrupt place, and in the early 90’s, the Southwest part of town (Getty Square, Nodine Hill) wasn’t a place you’d wanna fuck around. Besides the fact that I found the entire Wildpitch catalog on cassette (for $1 each) in the old Getty Square Woolworth’s, there was a furniture shop/thrift store right on the grimiest part of Warburton Ave. I went in there dead in the middle of the Blizzard of 1996, and it was no warmer inside than it was outside. The inside was a dark, moldy, asbestos laden nightmare, but they had some serious funk 45’s in that bitch. I found just about every Kool and The Gang 45 worth a listen in one giant box. There were also a bunch of obscure jazz fusion records, but of course they were beat to shit. I think I may have been the only collector that saw that place, because I came back there in the spring (with a dust mask this time) and it had been closed. OSHA probably got notified when somebody croaked.

5. SHORT LIVED RECORD STORE, NAME UNKNOWN (New Rochelle, NY)defunct

I don’t even remember the name of this joint, it opened in 1996 and it closed the same year. Owner was a coochie mouth who priced everything way too high and was a dick about people "manhandling" the records. But I was cool with one of the cats that was down with Roughhouse Survivors (a local Grand Puba mentored group) and his man was working there. One day I was just browsin through records I couldn’t afford when homie walks in. All he says is, "just get whatever you want Jay, its on me". I knew this dude was in grime mode, but fuck asking questions, I took a stack of records worth about $500 and put em on the counter. This dude took about 7 crates. All of a sudden, his other man pulls up in a big ass Sanford & Son pick-up truck and the dude just starts loading. The whole time, his man that’s workin there is like "y’all hurry the fuck up, the owner is comin back!". When I realized what was goin down, I grabbed some more over priced Blue Note shit I knew I could sell downtown, hopped in the truck and broke north. My man even gave me a ride home. A week later I went back to the spot and the shit was out of business. I took all the records I stole down to the city to sell and made a stack off of them. It was enough to pay for my last few driver’s ed classes and some new clothes and books for college in the fall. That’s what you get for trying to stick Manhattan tourist prices in New Ro.

4. INTEGRITY ‘n’ MUSIC (Weathersfield, CT)

My pops lived up in CT, and he put me on to this place when I went up there to visit. It was old, but clean and extremely organized. Maybe CT dudes hit this place up, but I never heard anybody from NY mention it. The owner didn’t seem to like rap, so he priced it dirt cheap. Better for me, I got The 5th Platoon’s “The Partyline” “12, The UBC’s 2 All Serious Thinkers LP, King Tee’s Tha Triflin Album and Intelligent Hoodlum’s “Black & Proud” “12 all for $1 total. Yes, $0.25 a piece. Those records (the first three in particular) are a bitch to find today, let alone cheap. They also had tons of dope childrens records -I copped a mint condition copy of the Roosevelt Franklin album in there for $1- and 70’s jazz fusion. If you like those late 70’s Blue Note “Who Got The Props?”, ‘throw a filter on it’, 1994 type of samples, you would’ve had a blast in there. Most records were $5 or less.

3. ADDICT EX-DJ (New Rochelle, NY)

One day in 1994, some dude (who was obviously on something) was outside Vance Wright’s studio on Main St. with a crate of about 300 45’s. Not sure if he was on his way to get a fix, but he had joints worth scrappin over. Not just standards like James Brown, but Ricky Williams’ “Discotheque Soul”, The Pazant Bros.’ “Chick-A-Boom” and a bunch of other limited press shit that costs a semester of state college today. Of course most of em were a bit fried, but I’m not a condition snob, just throw some alcohol on the shit and shut the fuck up. He asked us for $300, but me and Vance talked him down to $50. We gave him $25 a piece and of course, I took all the good shit, sorry Vance. Crack is a horrible drug, but damn did we get some joints. Hopefully that dude cleaned himself up.

2. OUT OF THE PAST (Chicago, IL)

AKA Don’t Go Into The Basement and Kill Yourself, Don’t Ice Grill Nobody Outside and Kill Yourself.
This may be my favorite record store in the world, but it’s not for the squeamish, the impatient, the overly health conscious or those that don’t like to go into the hood. My homie DJ Rude One put me on to this joint in the West Side of Chicago a few years back, and when I went in there, I didn’t know whether to turn my ass around or go get an OSHA mask and a sleeping bag and come back and live there for a year. Before you even get inside, you spot the gang activity cameras outside and usually 4-5 serious looking dudes out front grilling anybody that walks up in there. If you go in the winter, there may or may not be some ol school pimps on the grind in some furs that contain at least 8 or 9 endangered species. You have the option of buying one of the $2 tall white tees in the store windows, and when you get inside you’re bombarded with a 20% organized smorgasbord of cassettes, 8 tracks, defunct toys, VHS tapes, stethoscopes, fly paper hung from the ceiling, a James Brown 45 collage on the wall, random junk and about a zillion albums. The first time I saw it, I had 20 minutes to look around before my flight. I grabbed some super rare and regional gangsta rap tapes off the wall and a few local 500 press funk 45’s that were sitting on top of a discontinued board game with no board inside and broke out. I went back another time and took 3 steps into the infamous dungeon basement. The mold and ammonia stopped me in my tracks, but I did see a bunch of sealed Syl Johnson LP’s at the bottom of the staircase. Nonetheless, I valued my life too much to go all the way down. Every carcinogen known to man could be down there somewhere. I’ve also heard rumors of a dead bat (and a living one too), a truck that somehow managed to park down there and basically any album you want -if you’re willing to put in the time and get into a brawl with your respiratory system- are too. If I ever knew I had a month left to live, I’d go down there with no protection and go out with a bang. I went with Rude and Large Professor, and even Large (aka Digger Extrodinaire) took one look at the basement and said "fuck all that" and turned his ass around. Prices vary, but I don’t mind. The experience is as good as the selection, and my trip to Chi Town is incomplete without it. Every collector has to go there at least once or they haven’t experienced what record hunting is all about. On that note, if I ever heard they organized that place or brought it up to code, I’d never go back. Oh, and to OSHA, PETA and the CPD…ain’t no suckas live here!

1. ALL EARS RECORDS AKA “THE DINER” (New Brunswick, NJ)…defunct.

Damn, what a joint. After searching high and low for the first 4 Kool & The Gang albums to no avail, I resorted to the Yellow Pages (no internet in 1990 and I was depending on my pops to drive me around). This dude had his # in the Manhattan Yellow Pages for some reason, so I gave him a buzz. Not only did he have every record I was looking for, but the prices weren’t on the standard Colony/Bleeker Bob/Golden Disc/House Of Oldies tourist bullshit. Me and my pops took a ride out there and the dude is sitting in a record cluttered condemned diner in the middle of New Jersey. No browsing allowed. You call, he goes to his “warehouse” and gets the records and meets you at the “diner”.  The first Kool & The Gang album for $20 was a steal even back then, but now the shit is over $100 and getting harder to find by the day. It’s the most valuable piece of wax I own, but more for sentimental reasons. He threw in Live At The Sex Machine, Live At PJ’s and the first Best Of … all for $80. I saved up for weeks for that trip, and he held the records for me too. Legend has it that Q-Tip, Juju (Beatnuts) and Large Pro got access to the “Warehouse”. Word also has it that all of these records were a front for some federal crime related shit the dude was doing, and he’s probably playing dominoes somewhere upstate now. Could just be a rumor though, who knows. Either way, I passed by the diner in 2007 and to my surprise, it’s still standing. It’s vacant of course, but it felt good in knowing gentrification didn’t wipe out my own personal landmark.

Sorry I don’t have any Egon-like stories of getting arrested in Peru while finding records, but I never had the money/time to really smash overseas. When I was there, it was always venue, hotel, airport and maybe the most common record spot in town if we had time. I don’t do it like I used to, but every once in awhile I’ll hit a dollar bin for sport. These are my standout memories, feel free to share yours….

Zone

60 Responses to “J-ZONE’S TOP 10 ADVENTURES IN DIGGIN’”

  1. maticulous Says:

    ‘The Thing’ in Brooklyn has to be my favorite spot. All records are $2…you need a mask…and nothing is overpriced like other spots in NYC.

  2. jzone Says:

    I always heard about the thing but never been. I juts got used to academy i guess, cause of the listening station. plus it got popular when i was slowing down with diggin.

  3. Contakt Says:

    No mention of City Island? What about the thrift store in Astoria? Old Chelsea swap meet? That spot in Minneapolis?

  4. Butcha Says:

    i’ve breathed in mold and dust for years but my best score was off some dude’s lawn in portchester on a salvation army run from purchase. your man was selling all his old clothes and had a few records on the front lawn. after picking up bill withers, herbie hancock’s rockit (my 3rd or so copy), and johnny guitar watson for $1 a piece, he was like “i got more inside”. i bought a whole crate for $20 that was jam packed with parliament, slave, brick, more johnny watson and a slew of other funk and soul. garage sales are where it’s at. i pull over for every one i see and ask for keyboards or records.

  5. Contakt Says:

    BTW - so crazy you had such a hard time finding the first K & the Gang album - remember how I stumbled onto a copy in Philly for like $12 at Cue back in the day.

    Great read man, I could read more of these.

  6. Mr Lawson Says:

    Cool piece, as always. I actually got a coupla rare indie Hip Hop twelves for cheap at that spot you took me to in Queens last October.

  7. Werner von Wallenrod Says:

    Damn, I live right near that diner. Wish I knew about it back in the day.

    By the way, that Herb McGruff demo came out on vinyl last year. Those three songs, plus a second version of “I Keep My Palm On the Handle” and a demo version of “8 Iz Enuff.”

  8. jzone Says:

    Werner…that diner was the joint man, it was crazy! Oh, and who ya think supplied the audio for that vinyl? ;). E…City Island I left off cause the dude accused me of stealing that one time. And I remember you got the first Kool mad cheap…at Cue’s (a hiphop store) of all places. I was mad at you for that!

  9. dj/mc oxygen Says:

    Excellent work, J. “Breakdown Records” is that issht! Found ’nuff nuggets up in there. “Greenline” bagged up PLENTY of my little part-time @ Burger King paychecks weekly. All I remember is the 45″s up in there. Sham~WOW. My boy Takeem introduced me to a few spots in the Bronx back in the 80’s.

    Honorable mention to “Gimme Gimme” for the TONS of joints I stuck up under my Goose and walked out with! Catch me if you can like the gingerbread man.

  10. Steve brock Says:

    That spot in new ro was on centre ave, he had a issue with gallo wine in the jug. When we were working on the ini project, we would hit him off with a jug and he would fall asleep. We destroyed that place…took it all. We even would bring crates of crap records to fill the shelves we emptied. Every time we came in the store he accysed us of mixing up the records…just would say sorry as we handed him his jug. Only place i ever replaced stolen goods, at one point the entire funk soul section was filled with yiddish records.

  11. ralphykid Says:

    YO INTEGRITY n MUSIC YESSSSSSS!

    I was already feelin this blog as I’m into records and diggin myself, then I saw Integrity listed and I flipped out.

    I’m from West Hartford a few towns over and I’ve been hittin that spot up for years. I left the digging scene for awhile and when I got back into it, I had found that the dude had moved the shop to the back of the building ( not facing the main strip.

    The owner is very helpful and always recomends shit to me, BUT he hates on all funk/soul jazz typa shit. He’s one of those 50’s-60’s bop jazz purists so he always trash talks my selections.

    I’ve copped soo many dope CTI releases for 3$ or less, and the 45 selection is deep as fuck as well, with a bunch of rare hip hop 45’s.

    He got rid of the hip hop selection..but there is still tons of jazz of all genre’s and crazy 45’s

    Long winded… Anyways, thats fuckin dope that you know that spot Zone, PEACE!

  12. Joe Pineapples Says:

    I love digging around, though nowadays I don’t do it as much as I used to. I was a bit late into Hip Hop, so I ended up focusing on CD’s predominately instead of vinyl. Anyways, over the last few years I been heading to the Record Exchange Shops in Notting Hill in London UK. Its a bit of a blatant location, but I found some good gems there. I still try to go from time to time and see what I can find, but prices generally aint too cheap. I don’t have the cash to get all the vinyl I want there, but such is life… On the other hand, I was lucky enough to get a CD version of “Music Por Tu Madre” there dirt cheap. My first real exposure to your work. Also the “Merry Pranksters Acid Tests Volume one” of Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs was a damn good find for me. I hope I aint coming across like a fool, but what the hell if I am I guess. Yeah, I know I don’t got the digging knowledge and such, just throwing in my two pennies worth.
    Peace out

  13. jzone Says:

    @ Steve: Hahaha, yeah it was on Centre. It was off Huguenot, right near the corner. @ ralphy…yessir. Exit 24 off I-91/Silas Deane. Integrity was the SPOT for jazz. All that fusion type shit was there. I got a huge stack of John Klemmer records there once for dirt cheap. I remember it was next to a shop that sold sheet music and instruments in a mini strip mall. I housed that place from 1990-98. @ Joe…haha its all good we aint elitists in here. I collect CD’s and tapes too, because after 1991 a lot of shit (particularly regional shit) didn’t come out on vinyl. Some major releases didnt even drop on vinyl. I don’t even have Music For Tu Madre on CD. It came out in two different issues and I don’t have a copy of either one.

  14. mediocre chimp Says:

    West coast secret.

    Salvation army has stores all over the place, records are 50 cents.
    New product weekly. Picked up Tenor Madness and Master of Puppets couple months back.

    I love this fucking blog, like being in New York without the hassle of actually going to New York. Plus, it’s like a secret club.

  15. Marco Says:

    thanks for that! good read bro. Gotta hit that spot in Chicago one day.

  16. BIG D O Says:

    Great, great, great post Zone….

    the one thing about being a digger that I think almost comes close to the feeling of finding that rare gem at some randowm hole in the wall spot, is the comradery of it all….We all got stories and we all have our fav. places to dig, that over time provide great memories.

    I gotta give it up for my fav. spots too:

    The Leechpit

    Earth Pig Records

    The Independent Annex

    Wax Trax

    shout out all my Denver and southern Colorado crate diggers!

    -BIG D O

  17. jzone Says:

    Thanks for the support…and Mediocre Chimp…NYC is cool to visit but never move here. Never. Vastly overrated. At least these days.

  18. tadah Says:

    I have been shopping with many artists in Zürich, Switzerland. And usually they spent half the money got from selling merch the night before. apparently Zürich used to be Dan The Automator’s favorite spot too. there’s both the really dingly thrift stores, but also the well organized stores. one in particular baught rap records throughout the 80s and 90s, put them in a warehouse for ten years, got them out and sold them. they weren’t cheap, but you could get everything still wrapped there.

    by best find was the Juggaknots album for 60 cents.

  19. Easy Mo Bee Says:

    Yo!! J!! You are like the ultimate me as i was when i was a little boy on up to this very day. I’m still that little boy and i still cop vinyl every week in my life. It’s purely an addiction bro. Word. But that was a good read. I felt you man on those dusty, molded spots. We diggers are all like soldiers at war, HAZMAT heroes and downright life-risking selfish son-of-a-bitches when it comes to findin’ and coppin’ that jewel in the Nile that you almost lose your girl for. (And why is it that the chick that decides to “Hum Along And Dance” with us on these moldy excursions is usually a baaaad ass one too. We don’t care. SHUT THE FUCK UP!! Lol.) But real talk J, man i’ve literally felt my sinuses flare up in the presence of dust and mold for many a time. Don’t talk about the risk of bedbugs, chinches and larvae. I seen it all. That made me pretty cerebral over the years about bringing lost-and founders to my crib. So for about the last 10 years or so i have this process where all records that get brought home are washed like dishes by me. About 5,6 inches of COLD water and Dawn dish detergent suds with a sponge is the law for me. FYI for some reason sponges don’t scratch records. ALL old sleeves see the can and get replaced by new ones to protect the now squeaky clean record. I’m pretty serious about my shit. I’ve been collecting records since around 8 years old. In my many travels, i came up on gold. Let’s break some o’ da spots i stumbled upon: Korvette’s & May’s Department Stores went outta business. That’s where i caught my sealed doubles for Olympic Runners’/Put The Music…, T-Connection/On Fire, Fallin In Love/9th Creation and so many more gems at 59 cents/2 for $1. I cleaned they ass OUT til they closed! Music Factory downtown Bklyn and 40 Deuce locations, Second Hand Rose 14 St in Manh., Vinylmania (when Manny used to actually be there), Downstairs (in the 42 St train station), Barry’s Stereo on 23rd, Sounds on St Mark’s, all the sidewalk vendors in the Village, the public library, Mr. Green Thrift Store in Bklyn, Birdells, them thrift shops on Atlantic Ave in the now antique district, any Salvation Army or Goodwill, The Bruised Apple in Peekskill, Disco Mat, The Wiz (2 for $1), Bondy’s in Park Row, Exotica on Portabello Rd in London, Wall Street Stereo, Colony (yes J… when they sold everything for $2.98) and so many other book stores, thrift shops, record stores under the J train in Brooklyn that i don’t remember the names of and countless other spots that closed since then that i don’t remember cuz o’ the constant weed haze of my youth. Too too many to mention. As common as a lot of the major spots sounded, i caught a lot of joints that would be 50-$100 worth today. The 45 that i used for the siren in Flava In Your Ear was found outside in the ramp in my projects. Pissy smellin’ and the whole shit. But i finally used that record one day. It ain’t where you got it from, it’s how you use it. So all you big kids like myself please keep it funky, by all means. Let’s continue to preserve that funk/jazz/soul sound in hip hop or just music period. JZone you’s a beast!!! One love… Easy Mo Bee.

  20. jzone Says:

    Haha thats whats up Moe. Its an honor to have you drop a comment on here bruh, you did too many classic joints to mention. Mays and Korvettes ,wow. That’s when I was a shorty shorty haha. Yeah man, Colony and 2nd Hand Roses on 6th Ave both would beat you in the head with the prices, but they got like that later on from what I hear. Good lookin on the history lesson Moe, thats crazy!!

  21. Chris Says:

    Contakt. City Island? Old Man Roger. i found heat there but it was so overpriced as the years went on. Then Roger died so. No longer there. anyone here remember Poughkeepsies Record City? Monster used to let me downstairs. i used to find sick rock breaks there but i later learned Paul Nice and Diamond D raped that spot in early 90s.

  22. jzone Says:

    City Island, yes indeed. Roger with the ZZ Top Beard (RIP). At the request of a few people, I may do a brief part 2 to this, and talk about that spot and how I got accused of stealing, haha. I have a few other spots and crazy finds that I didn’t get to big up. Stay tuned for pt. 2 next week or the week after.

  23. Dame Says:

    jzone.With all this record talk. id like to hear some new chopped up Jzone instrumental bangers. Thanks 4 the history and Herb McGruff track (dope). Peace from The west coast Los Angeles … Dame Msk The SeventhLetter ( whattup Dante )

  24. dj ian head Says:

    yo classic fuckin post. word up. definitely things up in weschester, i gotta get up there again. i’ll give u one story, a spot i can’t name (west coast) had a underground parking lot next to it. my man put me on one day that it was some long-term parking shit, and so no one was ever there, and that the record spot was storing boxes of records in it, in this little room off the lot. so me and my man go down there with a flashlight and sure enough, there’s just stacks of boxes full of wax up to the fuckin ceiling, just everywhere. there’s like 3 cars parked and us and that’s it. we grab shit like mint faze-o records and early del 12inches, all kinds of shit. then we came back with a car the next week and loaded up as much as we could. there was water damage and bugs and dust and shit but fuck it - records are records!! there was this old parking attendant and we waved to him on the way out, went back to the homie’s basement to sort through all the shit….there’s some other good stories but that’s it for now. someone gotta compile the best stories, and not just like you say, the “i went to argentina and blah blah blah” but just the local joints, the classic spots that were always an adventure. again, great post.

  25. paten locke Says:

    aw man, wadaap j!
    this was a dooope read….
    yeah man, ive brought some cats like cut chemist and edan to one of my favorite, yet definitely dirrrrty spots in jax, fl…i still go there all the time…so lets just say the one off mcduff lol…i feel you on those stories…
    heres one of my own…
    i djed this spot @ late nineties downtown jax…
    there was a homeless cat we used to bugg out with at the end of the nite, he was mad cool..
    i later dubbed him “waxman”…and thats how all the local cats knew him…
    anyways,
    one nite i hit him with an extra 5$ for carryin my crates out the club…i told him that was in case he saw some old records around the hood, to let me know…
    he looks at me and says , “theres this place up the street,right next to the soup kitchen, that has an old”little record” in the window “and that i should check it out..
    next day, i wake up bright and early and go to the spot..
    there was a faded and warped james”good foot” 45 in the window…
    couldnt see inside, so i went next door to the kitchen and asked the woman who managed the building if i could get into the next door building…
    she had a key and said fine, that no one had been in there for over a decade!…
    wooooow i thought…
    went in, and this place had records everywhere…im talking 45 for days!…
    and whats crazier is there was all kind of ish in there, like the owners one day thought the world was gonna end, and just left!…
    of course im lookin around and seeing straight heat, so i asked what i could do to leave with some records…
    the woman said take what you want, and leave a donation…
    so i filled up the trunk lol, and gave her all the money i had…just under 100$…
    the next day i came back with my diggin homie basic from my group the ABs…
    we went thru everything and found mad dopeness, as well as like 50 copies of hook and sling and 50 copies of freddie scott”you got what i need” deadstock…
    and lots of other one off real heavyweights like communicators and the black experiences band, erik and the vikings , helene smith on deep city, etc….
    she locked us in the 2nd day, and said this was so none of the homeless folks tried to run up in there…
    she also brought us food…from the soup kitchen, around lunchtime…
    lemme say, soup kitchen spaghetti is type not good….
    anyways…
    turns out, the building gets demolished a few months after…records that i left and all…
    i was bummed, but happy i got in there at all….
    thousands of hot joints…at a spot noone even knew existed…
    i ate for a few years off that comeup…
    later on my mom bought me a book on jacksonville african american history…
    and lo and behold, there it is…
    in the 60s it was THE spot to go to…before they shut their doors in 81!
    Hollywood Records…
    jax fl…
    anyways, tried to make this story short, but there are wild more anectdotes to go along with it…
    thanks j for even starting this discussion…
    and wadaap e! wadaap moe bee!…
    still diggin
    p locke
    tres records

  26. mediocre chimp Says:

    Holy Shit, I just witnessed Easy Mo Bee drop in on a j-zone blog.

    No matter what anyone says about the internet, sometimes it’s fucking golden.

  27. jzone Says:

    Damn Paten, you just crushed half my stories, lol. You and Mo Bee both. But that’s the fun of it.

  28. Speek Greene Says:

    The spot now in CT is Gees Records in Bridgeport.Look for my man Lalo.Probably CTs biggest diggers besides Egon.Hate that i had to move from home to Phoenix.If your interested the spot in Phx is Revolver and Memory Lane online.

  29. Dea Arthur Says:

    I live in Getty Square and it’s a shame that spot on Warburton is gone. I never would have known such a gem existed in Yonkers. Great post.

  30. paten locke Says:

    eah, my man lalo…lol…last time i was in ct, i did hit my homie up…and then we went to the strippy strip cluuuub…and got drunky drunk…wadaaaap Gee!

  31. omega jackson Says:

    yonkers gotta warehouse thats like the funiture spot(who i think is till open).
    RECORDS UNLIMITED was the shit. mamaroneck to records too. ask keith yaz?

  32. gojohnnygo Says:

    Love this. Out of the Past description is amazing. I love records, but I love record stores even more. Just yesterday I wuz diggin’ four blocks away from a tornado touchdown, when the power went off, I grabbed a flashlight. Walked out with 1300 records too. 500,000 & counting…..

  33. chuck money Says:

    i’m lovin this post J. could read a book of these stories…
    here’s mine:
    grew up in duluth mn (top ten caucasian ghetto in the country ya’ll)and was a record fiend like everybody else on here. In the late 60’s early 70’s Bob ‘chester’ Carlson took sellin porn to the minn. supreme court and won. He was like the hippie pimp of Minnesota at the time. Bob got shook down for statutory rape in the Minneapolis area and fled to Duluth. He opened ‘Chesters’ Book and Record as a way to keep area horndogs/freaks in full supply of mags like ‘ac/dc shemale’ and the like. Porn was payin the bills but the place was warehouse in size and boasted the biggest used book and record collection in the area. When I was a dorky teen i’d go down and cop shit to sample (first thing i looped i thought i was the man until pete rock jacked the same loop off the ‘hair’ record for Run DMC’s ‘Down with the king’) I graduated, moved otta town and when I would come home to see the folks, I’d always go for a dig. My homie Ben got a gig working there, and for a small donation of powerful ganja I was coming with, he’d basically hook me the fuck on up. Couple years later, Bob Carlson got jacked by the irs and was in deep shit. Funny thing is, the irs can’t seize porn. And they had no interest in all the used books and records. Bob shut the place down and went into hiding. The landlord knew my homie Ben and was desperate to reopen the place and make some coin. So Ben bought the whole two story warehouse for $1. That’s right. A buck. As long as he paid the rent and gave the landlord a cut. So when I came back for a visit, Ben asked me if I wanted to see the second floor, which no one ever got to see cause Bob was stashing shit up there for 30 years on some hoarding/hermit tip. I took the freight elevator up with Ben and the doors opened to a sight I’ll never forget: Records in piles ten feet high and quadruple that in width. I spent every moment I could standing on wax and digging my way to the bottom. I’d take a shopping cart at a time down to their office and listen on my portable. Now don’t get me wrong. Half this shit was bing crosby xmas lps and montovani’s greatest hits, but I pulled many a gem out. I’m no elitist, i’m not some snob looking for a thousand dollar 45. I’d take one, but I was geeked on finding Young Holts Wha Wha Man (that drum break intro is my personal fav of all time), 12’s of Whodini’s Friends, Dennis Coffey’s Evolution, mad cti, blue note etc. My man Ben put mad work into that place, then the landlord pulled a gank move and took it over once Ben cleaned it up and got business poppin. Ben took ‘em to court and lost. No contract, just a verbal agreement. Sad as fuck. Last time I went up north the place was all boarded up. Never got to finish the job, but that place built my collection. I got to spend a year djing for Clyde(the one and only funky drummer) Stubblefield’s shows here in madison, and still play all those joints out to this day. Hope anyone that bothers to read this is reminded of that one spot that lives on in your best diggin memories. Thanks to everyone else for their stories, keep em comin!
    c$

  34. jzone Says:

    chuck…dope post, word. dea arthur…yeah yonkers was ill for diggin. but there were no stores outside of music man and rockin rex. it was all furniture shops and junk dealers that had shit, but yonkers is a city nobody bothers to investigate unless they lived there. i used to play ball out there, there were games and open gym at emerson middle school, north of getty square. i’d hang around the square afterwards, thats how i found shit. i only knew 2 hardcore diggers there, dj lethal and j-blend (who i used to compile bootlegs with, he lived in the mulford gardens projects that got torn down last year). me and j would trade joints, but i never put him on to the spots in getty square…then again he probably raided em before me!

  35. J Lonestar Says:

    This was a dope read indeed . It’s cool to see how mostly NY / NJ dudes get down . I never had the time to really dig in up there when I went . I hit up the specialty stores : A1 & The Sound Library. I need to drive up there and spend like a week there. Yall have so many spots up there its rediculous . DC is alright , but I’m sure it was raped in the early 90’s. Baltimore is still dope . Any DC /B-More cats remember New Wax Unlimited in Northeast ? or the old Memory Lane ?

  36. chuck money Says:

    i got many more zone. If you do another post on diggin, i’d love to share the ‘beanie babies’ story. on an absolutely unrelated tip, i was reading the unpopular hip hop opinions and thought back to the late nineties when I ran a record co-op which basically just serviced my boys with 12’s comin out of ny, cause we we’re missin out on shit and not havin it anymore. music for tu madre was easily the standout of those days. that era actually put me off to buyin any rap after god damn shawn j period went born again or whatever and quit usin samples. all those underground cats bitching and moaning about keepin it real made me keep it really real and stop buying that shit. plus the cheap ass mofos stopped puttin remixes or b sides on 12s like what the fuck am i buyin this for? I hear you about the cassette only bonus cuts. My personal fave: Hip Hop Doll Digital Underground. Ill beat with that olympic runners joint. Shock meets a honey and is geeked when she drops ‘I don’t listen to nothin but hip hop!’ back then girls didn’t. shit done changed. How bout the cd remix on derelicts of dialect with the prince paul ridiculous seasame street cut chorus! I was geeked out back then cause that same seasame street record was the first shit i tried to scratch with on grandmas old ass belt drive.
    Underrated hip hop 12: Divine Styler Ain’t sayin nothin.
    That beat is sick and he kills it.
    the flip is like runnin thru a fence naked on pcp.
    sounds like quantizing wasn’t invented yet. crazy.

  37. Wig Master Says:

    Yo, Secondhand Rose is definitely overpriced, if its still there. I was going to IAR around ‘04 and Ras from INI was in my class at the time. I got some coltrane record there and payed way too much for it. I live in CT now and will second Gee’s as the dope spot. My boy PHD took me there and i recognized Gee from the deep crates documentary. He’s got mad funk/soul/jazz cassettes too. Now i hit up Goodwill in Stamford, CT. I’ve gotten so many dope records there for a $1 or less. jon klemmer, jean carn, jean-luc ponty. kool and the gang, ewf & ohio players for days. some guy saw me digging in there and invited me to his house to look through his son’s old stuff. gotta hit him up soon…

  38. raa77 Says:

    yo whats up zone !STILL GOT THAT WILLIE D TAPE..rocking that shit like it came out today …i remember those spots especially integrity in the music in ct…dobbs ferry had this spot to i think it was called time square records ,white plains had some heat as well harvey electronics (in the basement rick had some shit, and there was the music store (bob) who was very cool ..upstate new york has bangers as well thrift stores in kingston ,woodstock,
    jacks in new paltz ,rhino records dont sleep some of the best things i find down the street being thrown out …raa

  39. jzone Says:

    Yo what up Raheem, damn fools comin out the woodwork for this. I still got your AMG tape too, haha.

  40. Detroit Murder Dog Says:

    Zone is right on the money on Out of the Past Records. K-Town is no joke. Bring your respirator and an uzi, straighten up your cap and you should be cool. Also, I heard there’s an aligator in the basement.

  41. scott bluntz Says:

    This is the best thing on the net in years

  42. ruvane Says:

    mad tru.. i used to go to my friends cribs and go thru their records. thats how i got that Cymande record.
    if y’all dont know who that group is.. i dont know what to tell you… peep them!@

  43. Mike Lewis Says:

    Hey J, I guess you’ve been told a million times but this is just the sort of stuff I love to read. Nice to see a few blasts from the past. Shame about the NYC Record Convention…maybe one day it’ll be back!

  44. stef tataz Says:

    try having to clean those muthafucking collections! shit, I used to have to wear a cot damn face mask & gloves while making those gems nice & crispy for y’all muthafuckers! :)

  45. ARM 18 Says:

    >>Word also has it that all of these records were a front for some federal crime related shit the dude was doing<<

    Record shops fronting for “spots” or other illicit activities is another sub topic. Poughkeepsie had a dive joint where up front was all records and the back was all porn. How many times have heads copped an S&S mixtape for $40 and were slipped a dove sack?

    This was a great piece, thanks J.

  46. charlie bucket Says:

    quality post j-zone, was a good read.

  47. DJ HasH Says:

    I could read this all day! What a GREAT blog! I love everybody’s stories. I started diggin initially just to find Hip Hop instrumentals to do scratch routines over. Then I started getting addicted to finding albums with the acapella’s to once again use for scratching or to make my little bootleg remix tapes (with instrumentals from one album and the acapella from another album) to impress my friends. Someone stole my tapes. That cut me deep but I’m getting off the subject. lol Then I moved on to making beats and what started out as just diggin for records to chop grew into an extreme love and passion for old soul/jazz/funk/pop/ all kinds of records. It doesn’t matter. As long as it’s dope. It’s an addiction. I’ve been blessed to dig in Chicago (my hometown), London (Portebello Rd got some gems), Minnesota, Ohio, California, various record conventions, etc. Whenever I go out of town I don’t care if it’s for 10 minutes I’m on google finding the nearest record store. I wish I had some amazing, intriguing stories to tell but I really don’t. All of my adventures are straight forward with no drama. Although I did get kicked out of Amoeba Records in Hollywood for video taping inside the store. Hey I was young and excited to be in Cali. What can I say? OH, and I almost got into it with a salesman in London (forgot the name of the store) when he wouldn’t sell me a Norman Conners record that he was playing in the store. He said that was the last one and that HE was taking it home. WTF!!! How DOPE is it that the legendary Easy Mo Bee commented on this blog?!!! I didn’t know about the cold water and dawn. THANX! I told you how I feel about Out of the Past. It has gems but I have to get mentally prepared each time I go. Plus the clothes I wore there go straight to the trash when I get to the crib never to be worn again. :-) I got that Music For Tu Madre on CD too. It’s the one with you holding your head with the skully on. I’m still looking for the 2nd version with Evil E? on it. That’s a CLASSIC cover!!!
    Peace!

  48. DJ HasH Says:

    Oh yeah. Reading how all of these record stores are now closed is really messed up. It’s sad how the internet, iPods, etc. are making record stores an endangered species. I can’t count how many times I go to record stores that I visit frequently only to find out it’s been closed. I’m not an internet / mp3 “hater”. It has it’s advantages. But I feel it would be very tragic if there were no more records stores. I don’t know what I would do if I was forced to only get records online. Not experiencing the fun, excitement, adrenaline rush, disappointment, anger, and joy all rolled up in one that comes with crate digging is something I never want to be without!!!

  49. jzone Says:

    Hash, funny you mention all these spots closing. I got put on to a spot by my man last week in an unsuspecting part of Long Island. I google it to get the address, and low and behold, it closed on THAT DAY! I was TIGHT!!!!!

  50. DJ HasH Says:

    TRAGIC!!! :-(

  51. DJ HasH Says:

    That “East & Police” is HARD! Gotta find that demo on vinyl…

  52. dj don g Says:

    yo Chuck, im from the Duluth area and Carlsons is my alltime fav spot, i use to have dreams about going to the 2nd floor pulling RAERs but was never sure if they had stuff up there. thaks for the story, ima try to make my way back up and see if i can get access…

  53. BIG D O Says:

    I’m glad I came back to the comment section of this post….Easy Moe Bee droppin’ science!!!

  54. magi115 Says:

    If you ever venture north of CT check Lukes Records in Pawtucket, RI. They’ve obviously been strip mined numerous times over, but somehow they have a steady influx of rarities, if the staff doesn’t hoard them for themselves.
    http://www.lukesmusic.com/

  55. Tim Says:

    Yo Jzone.

    This is one of the best posts i have seen on the web in a long time! Coming from the UK with comment. Remember getting “Staircase to Stage” by Jehst and being so stoked on the guest rapper. Now got myself a small but good collection of your wax, hard as fuck to find but i got some.

    On a little digging story i actually found your “Metrocard Millionaires” 12″ in a thrift store in the UK along with a pile of slum and stones throw 12’s.

    I am only 23 but i have been collecting records for about 8 years. The stories on this page make me wish i had started a lot earlier.

    You should come check out London as we got some ill stores!

    Anyway keep this shit up as it really helps my unemployed ass keep up!

    Peace from London UK!

  56. cs Says:

    Best 2 stories I have…
    A guy who worked at the dump came into my store and gave his friend (the salesman who used to work for me), boxes and boxes of records. I knew he was dropping them off, but was not in work that day. The next day I come in and I ask to see the records. He says, “I think there is some stuff in there that may be valuable, but most of it is “n***r music” Well, knowing how ignorant this bastard was, I could not wait to get into the boxes. He told me that if I helped him list the good stuff on ebay, I could have whatever I wanted from the boxes. I start looking through it….First box, an unplayed promo copy of the RAMP lp! I was freaking out, but trying to keep my cool. There had to be 500-700 records, all unplayed, mostly promos. Over the next few hours I convinced him the 90% of the records were junk, and meanwhile I took out about 200 records… top finds were the RaMp LP, all the slave records, Ramones-Leave Home promo, Calender- It’s a Monster, lots of sealed Albert King and BB King records, all the Crusaders lps (dating back to the Jazz Crusaders), lots of Miles stuff with Gil Evans, etc. Not long after that, I fired the racist fuck.
    2nd best story… I was at one of my local Salvation Armys, where I had gone since high school, but never had much luck… My girlfriend was there and told me she found a copy of Cabbage Alley in the furniture isle, on top of a trunk. I go over and take a look. I was again, freaking out! there were a couple more junk records on top of the trunk, so i decide to look inside…Holy shit, it was like a treasure chest..Some old dude must have died. I got most of the kool and the gang records, Jimmy McGriff, Wes Montgomery, Rufus thomas, JB, Jimmy Castor, all the Temps psych-soul stuff, etc, etc. It was wed. 1/2 price day, I walked out with 150 or so records, all for a quarter each….
    oh, one more. recently at a local flea market, i was about to leave and saw a huge HP printer box full of 45s. I thumbed through the first ten or so and came upon a bunch of stax stuff. I asked the guy how much, he said 50 cents each. i started to pick a couple out, then he says “”eh, you know what, how bout $10 for the box”. i bought em and as i dug deeper into the box, i came up on about 250 45s that covered most of the best stuff on Tamla, Stax, Motown, etc.
    Anyway, i really like this blog and loved the post (I used to go to Integrity in CT all the time) and wanted to share my stories too.

  57. FEWED THE SICKOE Says:

    classic fucking post man, no doubt, i might check out the chi town spot on my next trip over there

    peace

    myspace.com/fewed

  58. chuck money Says:

    yo don g,
    let me know if you get access cause carlsons is boarded up like a bitch. And sadly, even if anyone got up there, the roof leaks like mad, lots of stuff already ruined. If you’re in the Duluth area, check my man Bob/Tom/Tom at The Record Cave in souptown. I used to dig thru their shit at this this horseshit bar called The Viking. About ten years back, my man asked me if I ‘knew about the Viking’. Next day, noon, we roll into one of the dumpiest bars in all of Superior (that says alot) and order a couple beers, and my man says to the bartender, ‘hey tom, this guy wants to see the records’ tom says to me ‘what you lookin for?’ kinda stinkeyein me. I told him and he looks me up and down, then says ‘follow me’. Stock room door opens and beyond the cases of booze is a door leading to a freakish amount of 45’s, the first few library shelves are labeled ’soul etc’. I played my illest poker face like shrug, but inside i’m geekin right?
    After I dig for a bit, Tom says ‘you like james brown at all?’ no joke. He pulled out a collection of unplayed classic james like what. again, 2 bucks a pop. ‘The Grunt’, doubles of funky president, etc.
    Spent the next few days in there, and many, many, more on return visits. 2 bucks a 45.
    Diggin up north can be a double edged sword tho, with no black man far as the eye can see, the volume of funk and soul is thin. Fusion jazz up the ass tho. Straight up wasted plenty of hours diggin futility.
    I’m rambling like fuck. Anyways, Vinyl Cave or Record Cave in souptown. Last time I go, bob says, ‘i got a big collection of kill whitey in the back, nobody’s looked at it yet’. Boo Ya! 12’s of bounce roll skate, ol skool bay area rap, some rare boogie 12’s etc. All for buck apiece.
    Yo don, don’t tell nobody!
    And yo, if you know a spot up north, hook a homie up!

  59. Nes Says:

    Yo Zone, that diner in New Brunswick was my joint! I guess by the time I started going there he was letting people browse, though. If you went there with 2 or 3 people he would be asking dumb high prices, but if you went there solo on the humble he wouldn’t price so high. He was a weird dude. I actually got both the ‘Live in the PJ’s and 1st s/t Kool albums you mentioned at that spot, plus Emotions ‘Untouched’ for $10 each. He had like 2 or 3 copies of each one! From what I heard he was moving heroin or some shit out the back of that place. I was pissed when it closed but it had been pretty picked through by the time it did.

    I still remember the time you came diggin with my boy Sean and I at the spot in Trenton that now moved to Bordentown. I just came across your blog and it’s great man, I been laughing hysterically at some of your posts, keep up the good work and keep diggin.

  60. chuck-money Says:

    Yo Nes, any chance you’re Nesto from Budz dist.?
    If so, I used to buy records from you in the late 90’s.
    I ran a spot in Wisconsin called Steelo Records…

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